Tips for Making the Perfect Risotto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Risotto is a classic Italian dish made with rice. This dish originated in north Italy wherein rice is cooked slowly with meat, fish, or vegetable broth. In Italy, risotto is served as a first course or before the main course. However, risotto Alla Milanese is often served together with Osso Bucco Alla Milanese. Risotto comes in different types and there is more than one way to cook this beloved dish. If you want to impress guests and loved ones with a perfect bowl of risotto, check out these golden rules straight from the experts:

Choose the Right Rice

The type and quality of the rice you choose is an integral part of this dish. Unfortunately, not all types of rice are suitable for risotto. You need to use short, plump grains of rice that yield a starchy, creamy texture without losing its bite during the cooking process. The three most popular rice for risottos are Carnaroli, Arborio, and Vialone Nano.

Carnaroli – also known as the caviar or king of risotto rice – is most preferred by Italian chefs. This grain retains its shape well after cooking. It also yields a level of creaminess that is hard to replicate from other grains of rice.

Arborio is not as starchy or creamy as Carnaroli but it makes a worthy substitute. This medium grain rice is perfect for risotto but is easy to overcook. Using this grain means cooking with careful attention so the risotto won’t come out too mushy.

Finally, Vialone Nano is a type of short-grain rice with very starchy texture. This type of rice is grown in the Veneto region and yields a creamy risotto!

Using Premium Quality Broth

Apart from using the right grain of rice, the broth is just as important. After all, the broth is the soul of the risotto. You want to use homemade chicken stock, not bullion or stock cubes. Stock cubes are saltier and less rich than authentic broth.

To make your own broth, just simmer chicken bones from a roasted chicken with roughly chopped celery, onions, and carrots. Throw in a sprig of thyme or a couple of bay leaf to add depth to the broth. Add several cups of water and simmer on low heat for 10 hours or more. Sieve the bits out and your broth is done! You need plenty of stock when making risotto so make sure you have enough!

Cooking Gradually

You simply cannot hurry perfection. If you want to make a perfect risotto, you need to cook the dish slowly. Cook the rice for 20 to 30 minutes and incorporate the hot stock gradually, one ladleful at a time. Stir gently and continuously to achieve optimal creaminess. The stirring helps release the starch from the grains, creating a creamy texture.

A good risotto should have an almost soupy consistency. There should be enough fluidity that if you run a spoon through it, the soup will flow back and cover the spoon track.

Focus on Key Ingredients

If you are making risotto for the first time, keep the ingredients as simple as possible. By using simple, core ingredients, you are less likely to make a mistake. Use high-quality parmesan cheese, finely grated and gradually added to the risotto. Add freshly ground black pepper if you are using high-quality stock. If the stock is good, you do not need to add too much seasoning.  The richness of the broth is enough to add depth, flavor, and complexity to the dish.

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